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Awaken Interviews Ken Wilber Pt 3 – Waking Up Is Just Not Enough, We Have to Grow Up

Donna Quesada: Is it basically just a process of moving from a kind of selfish worldview to a more compassionate, or as you say, integrative?


Ken Wilber: Yes. The standard conclusion in developmental psychology is each stage of development is less egocentric.

DONNA: Okay.

KEN: So, it’s less narcissistic, it’s less self-centered, and it goes from being… the earliest stages are often called narcissistic stages or egocentric stages or ego power stages. The person can literally just take a first-person perspective. First person is defined as the perspective of the person who’s speaking. So, it’s an I, me, mine. Second person is defined as the perspective of the person being spoken to. So, that’s a you or thou or thy. Third person is the perspective of the person or a thing being spoken about. So, that’s he, her, they, them, it, or its.

Jane Loevinger actually defined and found that each of her main seven stages involved the increase in the perspective you could take. So, the first stage… you could take a first-person perspective. That’s, again, you can only take an I, me, mine. You can’t even take a you. If I’m on the first person egocentric stage, I can’t even converse with you because I can’t figure out what you’re thinking. I can’t take a second person, you, perspective, so I’m just stuck with I. When I get to the second stage, then I can take a thou perspective, and so, we can have a conversation and share perspectives and so on.

Then when I reach the third stage, I can take a third-person perspective and I can say, “Oh, I wonder what he thinks about this,” or, “I wonder what she thinks about it,” or “what do they think about it?” And then the next stage is the fourth stage. We can actually add a fourth person perspective, which is just defined as the perspective of a third-person perspective. So, that gives you fourth person perspectives. Then a fifth person perspective adds another first person to it, so you get a fifth person. And then a sixth person, and then the seventh person.

All of those were stages that I simply learned in a book called Integral Psychology. I actually have charts in the back of the stages of over 100 developmental models. And you can see, they’re all given different names, but you can see that they’re very similar. Like, he or she will call the conventional stage, age 7 to age 12. He’ll call that concrete operational thinking, and Loevinger calls it the conformist stage.

DONNA: I see.

KEN: Kohlberg calls it the conventional stage. But you can see that they’re all talking about the same thing.

DONNA: They’re talking about the same process.

KEN: Right. So, when I got into Zen at around 13, 14, 15, and I first ran into the 10 Zen ox herding pictures, I thought, Wow, another 10 stagesthese things are everywhere, and so I was going, “Wow, this is outrageous… This is great.” And so, as I started to practice the Zen stages, they increasingly didn’t look at all like the Zen waking up stages. It didn’t look at all like these growing-up stages. So, there were maybe 7, 8, 9, 10 growing-up stages, but they didn’t look or sound at all like the 10 Zen ox herding pictures.

DONNA: Where were they most different?

KEN: Well, very straightforwardly. When you have a Zen experience, you know you have that experience. When you have a satori, if you are meditating and all of a sudden, you find yourself one with the entire universe and all love and bliss, you know you are one with the entire universe and you experience love and bliss. That’s called a first person experience, and all the Zen stages are first person stages.

You go from sort of understanding to getting a bigger understanding to the 8th Zen herding picture, which is a real satori experience, and then the 9th and then the 10th. Each one of those are 10 pictures of a first person “I” experience. And you know you’re having that experience, when you have it, you know you’re having it because all first person experiences are, by definition, a conscious “I” experience. None of the growing-up stages are first person, none of them. You can look at them right now, you don’t have a clue what stage of growing up you’re at.

DONNA: Is it fair to say, to summarize it in as simple a term as possible, that waking up is just not enough, we have to grow up also?

KEN: That’s right. And that’s really important because growing up is sort of like… the rules of growing up, the stages of growing up, first person, second person, third person, fourth person. They’re much more like rules of grammar. So, when we all learned grammar, we first learned the rules, like, you can use an I with a first person experience that you’re having. That’s an “I” experience. There are dozens of rules of grammar, but we don’t really experience those rules of grammar as first person experiences. They’re simply like rules of grammar. They’re written out and you can learn them. And they’re all third person experiences, but you can’t directly experience a third person experience because it’s not first person.

And so, when I got that these were different, a set of third-person stages, which is why nobody… I mean, we only discovered these growing up stages about 100 years ago because nobody can look within and see the stages of growing up that they’re at. All they are, are these unconscious third person rules, and we don’t experience those.

A very great American psychologist named James Mark Baldwin, who first discovered these seven or eight or nine major stages of growing up… He looked at stages in four different lines of growing up. He looked at the good, the true, the beautiful, and religion. The good was stages of moral development, and he looked at those. The true are stages of like objective, scientific truth, so stages of science. And the beautiful are stages of aesthetic or the growth of beauty… our capacity to recognize beauty. It grows like all of our multiple intelligences do through these seven or eight major stages of third person growing up. Nobody ever remembers going through those stages because they were never conscious.

DONNA: It just happens.

KEN: Yeah. We just pick it up, or actually, if we study grammar in school, we’ll sort of write down several of the rules, but we forget them almost immediately. And so, those turned out to be very important differences because these rules or stages of growing up have to do with things like, “Can we take a second person or a third person or a fourth person perspective? Are we at simply pre-operational selfish stages of development? Are we at concrete operational conformist stages of development? Are we at formal operational, rational stages of development? Are we at pluralistic, multicultural stages of development, or can we bring them all together into unified systems of integrated development?” And those are how we will interpret every first person experience we have. We’ll interpret it through second person or third person or fourth person stages. And just as importantly, we’ll interpret every waking up experience we have according to the stage of growing up that we’re at. So, if you’re at a first person egoic stage of development, and you have a big satori, you’ll think, “Hey, I’m one with Christ. As a matter of fact, I AM Christ.”

DONNA: “I’m Jesus.”

KEN: “I’m Jesus, myself.” Our mental institutions are full of people like that. They’re at a first person stage of development, and that’s how they’re going to interpret every single experience they have… “Oh, I’m Jesus Christ. I’m having this experience, and I, Jesus Christ, am one with this tree.” So, it’s very important, even when we go through the waking up stages, that we have sufficiently grown through our growing up stages, at least to the rational stage of development, which gets us out of the selfish, magic, and mythic stages because those are very distorting stages. The magic stage, which is the very first stage out of the archaic stage… and the archaic stage is just… you’re nothing but a bundle of instincts, and you can’t even speak for the first year of life. That’s the archaic stage.

DONNA: It’s just the drive to survive.

KEN: Yeah, exactly. When the magic stage emerges, the mind is just learning to differentiate itself from the external world. It starts out fused with it because you’re in an archaic fusion stage, whether it’s just self and your mind, you can’t distinguish your mind from an object it’s aware of. And so, what you think during the magic stage is that if you alter your mind, you’re actually changing the object that your mind is representing because the two aren’t differentiated yet. And that’s a very, very bad situation because then your…

This is where a lot of romantic theorists get confused because yourself and the object you’re aware of are not differentiated… they’re fused. It sounds like a non-dual state of awareness. It sounds like a satori experience. “Oh, yeah, I have that. I’m one with the object that I’m aware of.” No, that’s not what it means. It’s actually technically called a dualism, which means without dualism, not non-dualism, which means fusing the two dualities, the subject and the object are fused, and they’re treated as one. But a dual is, they’re not separate, they’re not understood as separate things which are brought together into a unity, they’re just not separated yet. They’re one mush. They’re one undifferentiated globe of experience. And that’s no way to go through life because you don’t see the tree. You can’t tell the difference between who’s seeing the tree and a tree itself because they’re just fused.

Now, you’ll only have that magical kind of thinking when you’re two or three years old. So, many of us don’t remember that period. And romantics constantly confuse that period with the real non-dual awakened state. And so they’re always saying, “Well, we have to get back to our childhood state because we were unified with everything then. And when we become one with everything again, then we won’t have any anxiety, and we won’t have any fear, and everything will be wonderful.” But that’s not it. It’s not a wonderful state. It’s a very confused, disturbing, anxiety-creating situation. Just talk to any 3-year-old and you’ll see how un-fun it really is.

I really started to get the difference between waking up stages, on which every stage was a first person, directly conscious experience. So, it’s first person all the way. And that results from first person, you can only take a first-person experience, then they can take the second-person experience, then the third person, then a fourth, then a fifth, then a sixth, then the seventh. And the eighth or ninth person is an actual non-dual experience. But that non-dual experience can occur at any stage, and it can occur at any stage of growing up, as well. But again, you’ll interpret that enlightenment experience according to the stage of growing up that you’re at.

If you’re a second person, then you’re going to interpret that as an I-thou relationship because you can take a second-person perspective, you can take a “you” perspective or a “thou” perspective. And then third person, you can experience being one with the third person world. So, it’s a fairly decent place to have. If you’re going to have an enlightenment experience, be at least at the third person stage or best at the fourth person stage. The fourth person stage is the beginning of the rational stage. You can have an enlightenment experience at the rational stage, which is third or fourth person stage, and that’s a good place to have it because you can take the external perspectives, and you can realize that you’re one with all of the external world.

DONNA: And I suppose that’s where we need to be if we want to make practical change because I’m thinking, we’re in a world now where we have discrimination and environmental degradation and corruption. What will it take, practically speaking, to fix that, to make it such that all of this is more than just theoretical talk or stuff of philosophy?

KEN: Right. Well…

DONNA: What will it take?

KEN: The simple answer, although it’s not necessarily easy to achieve, would be, to be at the third or fourth person stage of rational development. So, we’ve gone from archaic to magic to mythic to rational thinking, and be at least there because then you can have a logical discussion with a second person or a third person. And you can sort of take their role, and you can care for them and how they see the world and so on.

And to ensure that, then you would want to have a waking up experience at that third or fourth person stage of development. Because when you have that oneness with them, then you are in the state of loving care, and therefore, you won’t treat them as just a separate third person… You’ll actually care for them. You’ll have a loving oneness with them.

DONNA: And we won’t just be angry people with picket signs, marching. We will come from a perspective of true loving compassion.

KEN: That’s right.

Donna: And that’s where real change should come from or would come from…

KEN: Right. And people do occasionally have miniature waking up experiences to that feeling of loving oneness. We just recognize such people as having a great deal of compassion or being very loving and caring people. And they’re experiencing their loving oneness with people that they are aware of and talking to as a third person or a fourth person. But they actually have… their heart is awakened to some degree, and so, they really are loving the person they’re talking with. You can see it on their face. They’re smiling, and they’re very caring and concerned about you. They want to know what’s happening with you and how are you doing and all of those things that compassionate people ask you about.

Reads and Watch Part 1 Here: Awaken Interviews Ken Wilber Pt 1 – Every Sentient Being Including a Dog, Has a Buddha Nature

Read and Watch Part 2 Here: Awaken Interviews Ken Wilber Pt 2 – Not I, but Christ liveth In Me

Read and Watch Part 4 Here: Awaken Interviews Ken Wilber Pt 4 – Guided Meditation into Witnessing Awareness

Read and Watch Part 5 Here: Awaken Interviews Ken Wilber Pt 5 – Finding Radical Wholeness

Read and Watch Part 6 Here: Awaken Interviews Ken Wilber Pt 6 -You Can Lose Your Fear In Fifteen Minutes

Source: AWAKEN


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